Eustress in Business: The Positive Effects Of Stress In The Workplace - Peter Boolkah

Many people believe stress is bad. In business, we associate the experience of stress with long hours, tight deadlines, and a constant struggle to stay afloat. But what if I told you that stress is not always bad? In fact, there’s a type of stress that could be your secret weapon for success. Stress that, when harnessed correctly, can drive productivity, spark creativity, and fuel ambition.

Welcome to the enlightening realm of eustress—the ‘good’ stress. It’s that stress that pushes you out of your comfort zone, encourages personal growth, and propels you towards your business goals. So, let’s jump right in, bust some myths, and dig into the many benefits of stress in the workplace.

What is Eustress in Business?

Eustress is, in simple words, the positive side of stress. It is a type of stress that fuels our drive, motivates our actions, and ultimately contributes positively to our well-being. The meaning of eustress comes from the Greek prefix ‘eu’ meaning ‘good’. It’s that invigorating sense of excitement you feel when you’re challenged to learn a new skill, start a new project, or embrace change in your business. This type of stress makes us feel good while we work towards our goals, navigate significant transitions, or embark on fresh ventures.

This concept was first introduced by an endocrinologist, Hans Selye, in his influential work, ‘The Stress of Life’, published in 1956. He elaborated on the various facets of stress and the different types of stressors. Two decades later, he clarified the characteristics of eustress, distinguishing it from distress, and broadened our understanding of stress. He also introduced additional types of stress, such as acute or chronic stress. This evolution in understanding helped individuals recognize that not all stress is detrimental. Instead, certain forms of stress, like eustress, can indeed be beneficial, fostering growth, development, and achievement in the realm of business.

Eustress in Business - Peter Boolkah

Why is Eustress Important in Work Environment?

Eustress is a positive stress in the workplace which fosters a positive mindset. It gives us the motivation and drive to overcome challenges, tackle tasks with enthusiasm, and meet our goals. When you’re experiencing eustress, it’s a clear indication that you’re in the right zone, perfectly aligned with your work.

This positive form of stress gives our energy purpose and direction. Instead of letting it go to waste, eustress encourages us to take action and stay motivated, focused, and proactive in our planning. It pushes us to step out of our comfort zones to achieve our objectives, while also reminding us to pause, reflect, and recharge. In essence, eustress is a powerful tool that helps us channel our energy toward what truly matters at work, creating an environment of success and fulfillment.

Eustress Vs. Distress: Positive & Negative Types of Stress

Let’s take a closer look at the difference between eustress and distress and how these two kinds of stress are found on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Positive Stress in the Workplace

Eustress is the embodiment of positive stress in the workplace. It is a type of stress that is beneficial, inspiring, and motivational. Unlike its counterpart, distress, and eustress inspires employees to exert effort, enhance their performance, and achieve their objectives, even in the face of adversity. It is a response to actual problems or threats, providing the energy, determination, and concentration needed to face or resolve the issue.

Negative Form of Stress in Workplace

While eustress can catalyze growth and productivity in the workplace, its counterpart, distress, can have negative effects. Distress, often known as bad stress, can leave individuals feeling overwhelmed and anxious, leading to physical and psychological symptoms. These can range from headaches and tension to insomnia, inattentiveness, or irritability. Unrelenting, intense, or chronic stress is harmful to both body and mind. In fact, numerous studies have linked distress to a wide range of physical and mental illnesses.

How Can You Identify Work Stressors?

To identify work stressors, it’s crucial to maintain a high level of self-awareness and observe your reactions to different situations at work. Stressors can come from external sources, like difficult relationships with colleagues, demanding deadlines, or a heavy workload. They can also originate from within, such as having high personal expectations, a strong desire to succeed, or a fear of failure.

Pay close attention to situations that leave you feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or drained. Take note of physical stress symptoms such as headaches, difficulty sleeping, or changes in appetite, as these may also be signs of stress.

Moreover, consider seeking feedback from trusted colleagues or supervisors who may provide valuable insights into situations that seem to cause you stress. Regular reflection and self-evaluation, combined with open lines of communication in the workplace, can be a powerful tool in identifying and managing work stressors. It’s a proactive approach that can lead to improved well-being and increased productivity.

What is The Impact of Positive or Negative Stress in Workplace?

The impact of positive and negative stress in the workplace can be profound, affecting both individual performance and overall organizational success. Positive stress, or eustress, can serve as a powerful motivator, fueling creativity, focus, and productivity. It can elevate employees’ performance levels, igniting their determination to overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

Eustress tends to foster cooperation and teamwork, as employees become more engaged and committed to their work, contributing to positive feelings at the workplace and, consequently, a vibrant work environment. Moreover, it can enhance job satisfaction and personal growth, cultivating a sense of accomplishment and self-improvement.

On the other hand, negative stress, or distress, can have detrimental effects on both the individual and the organization. It can lead to decreased productivity, impaired decision-making abilities, and reduced employee engagement. Over time, chronic distress can result in burnout, which is marked by persistent physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and a sense of ineffectiveness.

Additionally, it can contribute to high employee turnover rates, as workers may seek to alleviate stress by leaving the organization. This can result in increased recruitment and training costs, as well as a loss of institutional knowledge.

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What is an Example of Eustress in The Workplace?

Imagine a marketing executive who’s been tasked with leading a major project for the very first time. Picture them feeling a surge of adrenaline, excitement, and perhaps a touch of nervousness, considering the significance and scale of the task at hand. But don’t worry – these feelings aren’t overwhelming or paralyzing.

On the contrary, they serve as a source of motivation, inspiring the executive to prepare diligently and give it their all. They positively harness this energy, working hard to create an impressive presentation and collaborate effectively with their team. The anticipation of the big day and the prospect of successfully closing the deal provide just the right amount of pressure to keep them motivated and focused.

Can Good Stress Have a Positive Effect on Motivating a Person to Work Hard?

The benefits of eustress are great. This type of stress can have a positive effect on motivating a person to work hard. Eustress plays a vital role in driving individuals to achieve their goals and overcome obstacles. When we encounter a challenging situation, our brains provide a stress response in the form of releasing chemicals like adrenaline, which helps us focus and enhances our performance.

This kind of stress may be seen during important meetings, project deadlines, or when new opportunities arise. It’s a ‘kick’ that pushes us to prepare thoroughly, think creatively, and perform efficiently. The satisfaction and accomplishment we feel upon completing these tasks further reinforce this positive association. It’s important to remember that eustress may be beneficial as long as it’s manageable and balanced with periods of relaxation and downtime.

Can Coaching Help You to Turn Distress Into Eustress?

Coaching can truly make a difference in helping individuals transform distress to eustress. A skilled coach can equip you with tools and techniques to identify your stress triggers and effectively manage your responses. They can guide you in shifting your perspective on stressors, seeing them as opportunities for growth and learning rather than daunting obstacles.

With coaching, you can harness the positive aspects of stress, like increased focus and improved performance, while minimizing the negative impacts. This involves adopting practical stress management techniques such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and cognitive behavioral strategies.

Additionally, a coach can help you set achievable goals and create a plan that aligns with your strengths and abilities, fostering a sense of confidence and self-belief. Through these strategies, coaching empowers you to embrace eustress, leading to a healthier and more productive approach to workplace challenges.


What are the different types of stress in the workplace?

In the workplace, stress can be classified into two major types: distress and eustress. Eustress is good stress. It arises when a task is seen as a challenge that one is capable of overcoming. This type of stress can fuel growth, motivation, and performance improvement. Distress, on the other hand, is a negative stress that occurs when an individual perceives a task as beyond their coping abilities. Distress comes as a result of a decrease in performance and, if left unmanaged, can disrupt your mental and physical well-being.

Another less common kind of stress is known as chronic stress, which is stress that continues over an extended period. If not adequately addressed, this prolonged stress can lead to serious mental health conditions, such as depression and heart disease. Businesses need to monitor and manage the different types of stress within the workplace, ensuring a supportive environment for their employees.

How can you experience eustress in business?

To experience eustress in business, there are several strategies you can employ. Firstly, it’s important to set challenging yet achievable goals. When a goal is within reach, yet requires effort and skill to achieve, it can stimulate eustress. Also, maintain a positive attitude and perspective towards challenges. Viewing difficult tasks as opportunities for growth and learning rather than threats can foster eustress. Moreover, ensure there is a balance between stress and relaxation.

Regular periods of downtime can help manage stress levels, preventing them from becoming overwhelming. Lastly, engage in regular physical activity and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is a natural stress reliever and can improve overall health and well-being, making it easier to manage workplace stressors. Additionally, maintaining a nutritious diet can boost your energy levels and overall well-being, further enhancing your ability to handle stress.

How eustress can help you build resilience in business?

Eustress helps in building resilience in business. When we encounter challenging situations that provoke eustress, we are essentially exercising our ability to cope with adversity and adapt to change. By navigating these situations successfully, we learn important lessons about our capabilities and how to manage similar scenarios in the future. Moreover, the positive emotions associated with eustress, such as satisfaction and accomplishment, reinforce our confidence and belief in our abilities.

Over time, this process of confronting challenges, adapting, and gaining self-efficacy contributes to building resilience. Thus, eustress can be seen as a catalyst, driving personal and professional growth and fostering resilience in the face of business challenges. This resilience is particularly valuable, as it not only aids in overcoming current obstacles but also equips us to handle future adversities more effectively.

What are the major sources of distress in business?

Major sources of distress in business often stem from a variety of factors. These can include high workloads and tight deadlines, causing excessive pressure and overtime work. Poor communication within teams or with management can lead to confusion, misunderstandings, and conflict. Uncertainty or lack of control over job roles and tasks can cause feelings of helplessness and frustration. Additionally, a lack of support or recognition for hard work can lead to a decrease in motivation and job satisfaction.

Unhealthy competition or workplace politics can create an atmosphere of tension and anxiety. Furthermore, an imbalance between work and personal life often results in stress, affecting overall well-being. It’s crucial to identify and address these sources of distress promptly to prevent negative impacts on employee morale, productivity, and health.

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